Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Review of Capital and Exploitation by John Weeks

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics
Intriguing Connections = 1) Learning Economics: Basic to Advanced

Elaborate Description

Capitalism is just one mode of social reproduction which Marx considered more progressive than prior versions. In a capitalist system, exchange value is primary and use values are secondary. The value system is socially constructed. A commodity is a social product as it must be exchanged. Exchange value needs to be considered before production of any product. Capitalism creates a dependency on others and removes self-sufficiency. This happens by removing the direct producer from the means of production. Appropriation can only exist with different classes such as from a producer class by a nonproducer class.

Competition depends on exchange and exchange occurs by different production abilities due to technology and specialization defined by quality or cost advantage. Under socialism, there is no competition due to right of employment. No competition means lower quality capital. Distribution occurs via use value rather than exchange value. Use value represents the economy of time while exchange value is specific to commodity value. Conscious planning of production become necessary to prevent production based on surplus value which is done via control of the social division of labor.

The Weeks argues against neoclassical economics because their version of capital is ahistorical. Problem with this is that history presented in the book are theoretic rather than actual history, which would have expressed a different narrative. The same history, that of feudalism, is used in different explanations but the explanations contradict each other. Weeks does reference that there are different and wrong views on Marx’s idea but as long as they support Marx, their ideas are not under suspicion or questioned. Only ideas of opponents of Marx are argued against.

This book is a short summary of Marx’s ideas. There are ideas which are elucidated but most of the book is written in a complicated manner which seems to obfuscate the meaning of the ideas. Contradictions arise within the authors explanations but are submerged by the writing. One such contradiction is that ending end capitalism and replacing it with socialism requires the creation of different classes, which as Weeks points out results in surplus value

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780691614649
Pages to read:   217
Publication:     2014
1st Edition:      1981
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability     3
Content          2
Overall           2